YPP Fall Newsletter 2020

As many of your own lives have been upended by the Coronavirus crisis, YPP as well has been working to adjust our work to safely continue to serve our students in our communities and pursue our mission to improve the outcomes of youth, through the catalyst of STEM literacy.

In 2020 we learned a lot about how our work can continue to grow and to evolve -- we’d like to share some highlights of this journey with you (below.)  As we move into new year and virtual learning, in all of its forms, we hope to take these lessons forward and look forward to serving our students and sharing updates with you along the way!


This past summer, YPP trainers facilitated virtual trainings for high school students, college students and teachers with program partners from across the country, including:

In total 238 students and 37 teachers participated. The participants were introduced to YPP’s Flagway game concepts and best practices for facilitation and instruction. In addition, YPP introduced tools adapted for the online learning environment, including: DigiFlagway and Kahoot/Google Drive-enabled content. Below are some highlights from the various virtual trainings.

“It was really great to do math with like minded individuals. The skills that we covered are super useful, especially with my 6th graders.”

- WTU Teacher Training Participant

Broward County Summer Training & Induction

In Broward County, High School Math Literacy Workers (MLWs) learned how to: stimulate communication and get all students to participate either by talking or by typing by in the chat; get students to collaborate in the online environment; support and coach students to develop understanding and accuracy in the key math concepts; manage the group dynamics and maintain patience in order to productively re-engage any disruptive students; appreciate how smart their students are; enjoy themselves and have fun facilitating math to younger peers.

Flint Community Schools

In Flint, on the last day of the Summer Institute, the parting words of one of the students was, “I love this class!” Teachers expressed how much they learned from the YPP facilitators, especially how much patience they demonstrated while working with students through their process of understanding the math concepts.

Additionally, YPP interviewed two Flint students utilizing its Flagway Cognitive Interview protocol, over Zoom.

Cognitive Interviews are an informal formative assessment tool used to provide insight into how individual students are learning the math content presented to them during the YPP program. Through YPP's partnership with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) it collected and analyzed the data from the interviews, with the intention of further refining the interviews for future usage. (A screenshot of cognitive interview, student response.)


Project Exploration - SUMMER of STEAM (Powered by STEAMbassadors) Provided a summer of fun learning opportunities, YPP's Flagway. YPP trained 13 STEAMbassadors in 8 interactive games for K-4. The STEAMbassadors worked with 15 Chicago Park Districts using YPP games for 2 weeks.

inSTEM summer program (inspiring STEM in Middle-School Girls, video link), is an all encompassing program that combines STEM, mentorship, leadership, and empowerment by nurturing and creating the next generation of women in STEM. At inSTEM, girls were exposed to civil engineering through Solar Panel Car and Robotics workshops, and introduced to the fundamentals of coding and computer science, engaged in mathematical concepts through YPP's Flagway game, cultivated creativity through Arts, and learned about mentorship, leadership and empowerment along the way!

VIRTUAL Learning Labs for High School Students

This past summer, YPP ran a series of labs across its network, all of which were adapted for the virtual learning environment. This year's labs engaged students from Boston/Cambridge, MA as well as Washington, D.C.  The following labs took place: Computational Thinking Lab, STEM Literacy Lab, Financial Literacy Lab, Community Outreach Lab, and a Virtual Town Hall.

The Computational Thinking Lab employed a total of 48 High School Math Literacy Workers (MLWs) and 6 College Math Literacy Workers (CMLWs). Over the course of 6 weeks each C/MLW spent 120 hours in the Computational Thinking Lab comprising many core virtual activities that were designed to stimulate their minds in ways that encouraged their cognitive development. Among these core activities were: Exploring STEM Literacy, Financial Literacy Lab, Data for Better Schools, Virtual Town Hall, and Community Outreach Planning Lab (Flagway) which consisted of planning out ice breakers and math activities. After participating in our Computational Thinking Lab, both CMLWs and MLWs expressed increased confidence in their ability to plan and lead creative, collaborative educational experiences for their peers and younger peers.

The STEM Literacy Lab took place every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning, and with the goal to expose the students to certain coding concepts such as variables, functions, loops, and if-then-else statements using the Unity Game Development platform. The game development lab was led by Dr. Alan Shaw, who has worked with The Young People’s Project and The Algebra Project for over 20 years. Dr. Alan Shaw received his Ph.D. from MIT Media Laboratory for Computer Science in 1995, and he is currently an Assistant Professor of Computer Science from Kennesaw State University, College of Computing and Engineering. This lab provided a way for the C/MLWs to explore creativity in multiplayer game development through coding on a cross-platform coding engine. In every lab, Dr. Alan Shaw led the entire staff in completing each game development task until the end, where the finished product was a 3D virtual game experience in which the C/MLWs compete against each other.

The Financial Literacy Lab sessions occurred every Tuesday and Wednesday; the purpose of this virtual workshop was to get the C/MLW’s engaged in discussions about how to begin understanding and effectively applying financial skills like personal budgeting, saving, and investing. Each week, the Financial Literacy Lab covered a different topic: Week 1 covered income and budgeting expenses, Week 2 covered taxes, Week 3 covered credit and debt, Week 4 covered banking, Week 5 covered financial aid in college, and Week 6 covered larger purchases such as houses and cars. The Financial Literacy Lab was a way to get the C/MLWs engaged in discussions that were not only about managing their current income, but also about broader financial topics such as how to seek out funds to pay for college and banking investments.

The Community Outreach Planning Lab was a space for the C/MLWs to be as creative and energetic as possible. This space also enabled C/MLWs to improve their leadership skills by creating and planning activities that will be facilitated at outreach sites when school starts back up in the fall. During future outreach sessions, C/MLWs will introduce mathematical ice-breakers in order to energize and create motivation among the kids they serve before beginning their lessons. The students typically vary in age, so while creating the ice-breakers the C/MLWs focused on conducting ways to introduce the basic Flagway concepts such as prime and composite numbers, along with assigning numbers into mutually exclusive groups and sharpening their multiplicative skills.

The Virtual Town Hall was a discussion hosted by The Algebra Project, and co-sponsored by YPP and other non-profits, which was centered around the recent decision on April 23, 2020 which recognized a constitutional right to foundational literacy under the 14th Amendment. The YPP C/MLWs took part in this discussion which recognizes that children have the right to a 21st century standard of basic literacy. Aligned with this national discussion, the Greater Boston students engaged locally with Data for Better Schools, a Cambridge-based group led by Dr. Janet Moses, Leslie Brunetta, and Emily Dexter on editing a script which tackled the issue of education inequality in America, specifically in mathematics. This workshop engaged the C/MLWs in research and conversations about slavery, reconstruction, and segregation and how these factors ultimately led to education inequality in America. The C/MLWs assisted in developing the script so that the content could be better communicated to young students in order to inform them about the root of education inequality and the scope of the effect that it has on students of color nationwide.

Nellie Mae Foundation: “Amplifying Youth Voice and Supporting Organizations Led by People of Color”

YPP is a proud recipient of the Nellie Mae Foundation's , “Amplifying Youth Voice and Supporting Organizations Led by People of Color” grant award. The award will provide $100,000 annually for three years to YPP and other MA-based organizations, led by leaders of color who are working to transform barriers to racial equity in public education. Additionally, this fund will support YPP in a co-designed leadership development program designed to meet its capacity building needs. All Nellie Mae grantee organizations are embedded in their communities and actively engage parents, youth, and educators to address issues such as dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline; promoting more culturally responsive teaching and learning; supporting immigrant students and English Language Learners; supporting students with special needs; and advocating for educator diversity. Thank you Nellie Mae for the recognition and support of our future work!!


YPP received funding for its proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF), titled “Building Capacity in Computer Science (CS) Education and Student Near Peer Classroom Mentorship”! (NSF Award Number #2031455) The grant is a 3-year $1 MM research-practice partnership grant, that aims to increase the number of high school computer science teachers by designing, evaluating, and iterating on a professional development model that uses culturally relevant pedagogy and integration into mathematics classrooms. The Research Practitioner Partnership (RPP) is a collaboration between YPP, Boston Public Schools (BPS), Bootstrap, and Boston University. The goal of this project is to provide professional development for BPS teachers which uses a classroom model of instruction developed by the project partners in order to integrate computer science into existing 9th grade Algebra 1 classrooms.


Lastly, look out in the coming year for these upcoming YPP (virtual) events, which will be updated on the website Calendar and Social Media Platforms (Facebook | Twitter).

  • March 2021: Local Flagway Tournaments will take place across the YPP national network.
  • April 16-18, 2021: National Math Festival
  • May 2021: National Flagway Tournament (exact date: TBD)

Thank you everyone, and stay safe!